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Belarus Seeks $3 Billion Loan From IMF

Belarus has announced it is seeking a $3 billion loan over 10 years from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for some economic reforms.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a government meeting in Minsk on December 1 that an IMF loan was the best option for Belarus, including a loan deal from close ally Russia.

Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakou said the IMF loan could have an interest rate as low as 2.28 percent.

Lukashenka said that while holding talks with IMF officials he indicated that Belarus was open to a range of reforms.

"I didn't say no to them on any point," the authoritarian leader said. "Not on the tariffs, not on [raising] the pension age, not on wages,"

Lukashenka's comments come less than one month after he rejected calls for structural economic reforms while speaking at his swearing-in ceremony.

He said then that such changes to Belarus's economic system would mean "smashing the political system."

An IMF delegation was in Belarus from November 9-20.

The Belarusian economy is struggling, with the country's GDP down some 3.7 percent in the first nine months of this year.

Based on reporting by AP, Interfax, and Reuters

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